Information about Brake’s helpline services

Brake’s road crash victim services exist to help relieve the suffering and assist the recovery of people bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes to enable them to lead positive, healthy and fulfilling lives into the future.

You can read more about our service below. If you are a service user, or a professional who may have clients who could benefit from our services, and you would like further detail about any of the information below, please contact the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401 or


  1. To support victims’ emotional recovery in order to enable them to feel valued, comforted and safe during a time when they are highly vulnerable.
  2. To provide information to facilitate victims’ understanding of often unfamiliar and complex procedures resulting from a crash, and to aid informed choices.
  3. To problem solve and to help to resolve difficulties, by talking through options and by offering and providing as necessary, advocacy relating to practical and procedural difficulties victims are facing, in order to help reduce the stresses that such issues can place on victims at the worst possible time.
  4. To help victims to identify and acknowledge any medium to long term psychological or physical symptoms, including trauma symptoms, from which they or their loved ones may be suffering and help them to seek and access appropriate assessments and treatment from the NHS and other sources to alleviate these symptoms.
  5. To facilitate access, where appropriate and where possible, to agencies and services which are able to provide face to face or specialist support which complements the support provided by Brake’s helpline and to signpost victims to relevant services and experts, nationally and locally, to assist in their overall recovery, and to help support their practical and emotional needs.
  6. To provide support and information to people caring for, and professionals working with, bereaved or injured road crash victims.

Quality standards: The Brake helpline provides high quality services for eligible road crash victims and will seek to maintain its accreditation via the Helplines Partnership’s Helplines Standard quality mark. Brake’s victim service standards are available here.

Service summary:

Brake’s quality accredited helpline provides needs-oriented emotional and practical support, advocacy, information and appropriate signposting/referral for bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims and the friends, family and professionals supporting them. The helpline provides a central point of contact to help guide road crash victims through the terrible shock and trauma caused by a crash and through the criminal justice and/or coroners systems, working in partnership with local and specialist agencies and services to facilitate and co-ordinate appropriate support to meet victims’ varied needs.

The helpline seeks to help victims feel supported, informed, valued and able to cope, emotionally and practically, in the immediate aftermath of a crash and as they adjust to their new reality. This is achieved through direct contact with victims themselves, through advocacy on their behalf as well as indirectly via sourcing support from other agencies and services as needed. Helpline assistance is also provided both through, and directly for, the friends, family, carers and professionals who are supporting eligible road crash victims if they require support in this role. Contacts with the helpline are confidential and the support provided is tailored to best meet the needs of each service user. Brake’s helpline support is not time limited, and victims can make contact at any point after a crash.

Brake’s helpline officers are highly trained and experienced support professionals working under expert supervision. As well as providing immediate and ongoing support and comfort, they can take on casework advocacy and research, get answers from officials on victims’ behalf, and provide reassurance, support and advice on getting specialist help with the trauma faced by road crash victims. Helpline officers can help to co-ordinate support provided by services with different specialisms, such as trauma therapy, legal support, bereavement counselling or group support, to ensure the diverse needs of road crash victims are met appropriately.

Helpline staff are trained in regional differences, such as legal procedures operating in the different UK countries and are experienced in sourcing local support for service users in any geographical area of the UK. Brake works in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to provide support where a road death has happened abroad. In these cases Brake helpline staff liaise with Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff as appropriate, and will endeavour to establish country specific information relevant to supporting affected users.

Areas of specialism and expertise in support provision:

Brake’s helpline officers provide individually tailored information, guidance and support on all the issues covered in Brake’s road crash support literature. In many of the topic areas covered by this literature, particularly those issues that most commonly arise as a direct result of a road crash, Brake’s helpline officers are trained experts with a high level of specialist knowledge and experience, and able to provide in-depth and expert support. There are other topic areas in this literature in which Brake’s helpline officers are equipped to provide initial information and guidance, but will then aim to signpost or refer service users to other agencies with greater expertise for more detailed assistance. Brake’s expert support will usually be offered alongside any support needed from other agencies or services, and advocacy with these agencies / services is provided as needed.

Channels of support provision and accessing the service:

Brake’s helpline service is provided via telephone and email channels. Information and guidance for victims is additionally provided via Brake’s road crash literature and the Brake website.

The telephone helpline service is a Freephone service accessed on 0808 8000 401. The email service is accessed by emailing Operating times for both channels are Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm. These times can occasionally alter due to unavoidable closure (eg. for staff training, sickness etc). Outside of these operating times a voicemail message on the helpline phone and an email bounce-back message provide service users with information about operating times and current expected response times.

Professionals, family and friends can make referrals to Brake’s helpline by making contact via the above channels and requesting that a helpline officer makes contact with a victim. Brake will only make contact with a victim if the person making the referral confirms that they have the victim’s permission to pass on contact details and that the victim is expecting Brake to make contact with them.

The helpline service is currently provided in English, and in addition there is limited availability of a direct translation service.

Services offered:

Within its areas of expertise, Brake offers a range of services (or types of support), tailored in each case to best meet the needs of service users. This includes a range of information provision and direct support, advocacy, signposting and referral to meet both emotional and practical support needs.

Response times:

Brake’s helpline aims to answer immediately all calls made to the helpline within its operating times of 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday, however sometimes this is not possible (eg. when all lines are busy) and callers will then hear the outgoing Brake helpline voicemail message, which clearly states the current expected response time within which a helpline officer will return their call (if the caller leaves a message). This message is also heard by anyone calling the helpline outside of helpline operating times.

All emails sent to the helpline inbox trigger an automatic ‘bounce-back’ reply which clearly states the current expected response time within which a helpline officer will reply in person to their email or contact them via phone (if this has been requested).

The usual helpline response time for messages, emails and referrals received is one working day.

Tags: emotional support